Jehovah Sabaoth: The Lord of Hosts
This is the final week in our study of a few of the Names of God in the Create Truth Art Challenge. Last week we studied Jehovah Jireh and this week we are going to take a look at Jehovah Sabaoth, The Lord of Hosts. Below is the devotional part the Challenge (the Truth Prompt). You can find the entire lesson as well as all of the other weekly lessons in the Grace in Color Classroom. It’s FREE to sign up, so head on over so you don’t miss a thing.
This particular name of God is mentioned over 270 times in the Old Testament (239 uses of The Lord of Hosts and 40 uses of God of Hosts). And often it is a military reference. The word “host” means army or organized group, is used 486 times in scripture and usually has something to do with warfare, armies or fighting. The Hebrew word can describe a multitude of men, angels or physical stars. Regardless of which interpretation you choose in any given text, the important thing to note is that Jehovah Sabaoth is The Lord of HOSTS.
He is Sovereign Lord of ALL HOSTS, both earthly and heavenly. This truth should give all of us who run to the strong tower of Jehovah Sabaoth great reassurance.
“She was deeply distressed and prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly. And she vowed a vow and said, ‘O Lord of hosts, if you will indeed look on the affliction of your servant and remember me and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a son, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and no razor shall touch his head.'”
This is the account of Hannah and this is the pinnacle of her distress. In Hebrew, the word “distress” reads as “bitter of soul”. If you read 1 Samuel 1 leading to this prayer, you will see that Hannah is bitter because she is barren in a time when barrenness was considered a sign of God's displeasure. And she was bitter because her husband's other wife (that is another story altogether) bore him many children. In verse 6, it even states that “her rival used to provoke her grievously to irritate her because the Lord had closed her womb.” This verse alone could be a stand-alone study on the consequences of deviating from God's plan of one man for one woman in marriage, and also of the sovereignty of God in the barrenness of Hannah. Whew… let's chew on that at a later time.
Back to the point of this devotion. Hannah used a name for God that is almost exclusively otherwise used as a battle cry. I love this so much. It really speaks to the state of her soul in this moment. She was at the end of her line, she was desperate and she was crying out to a God that she knew could provide the victory. Hannah made the decision to shift her focus from her bitterness to the sufficiency of Jehovah Sabaoth. She did what we are all commanded to do in our time of need.
James 5:13 “Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray.”
Philippians 4:6-7 “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
She ran to the One who she recognized as being Lord over all things and He answered:
1 Samuel 1:19-20 “And Elkanah knew Hannah his wife, and the Lord remembered her. And in due time Hannah conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Samuel, for she said, ‘I have asked for him from the Lord.'”
Lord of All, Lord of Me
We've established that Jehovah Sabaoth is a mighty name, implying a God of battle and strength.
Amos 4:13 says it like this “For behold, he who forms the mountains and creates the wind, and declares to man what is His thought, who makes the morning darkness, and treads on the heights of the earth – the Lord, the God of hosts (Sabaoth), is his name!”
And Isaiah describes him like this in Is 6:3 ” Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts (Sabaoth), the whole earth is full of His glory.”
I could go on and on with these incredible references. So why is the first use of this mighty and powerful name of God used in a simple woman's story? God in his grace and goodness to us reminds us that although He is indeed the commander of every army, both on earth and in Heaven, He is also the refuge for our weary souls. I will run to Him in my darkest hour and He will hear me and comfort me. Note that Hannah's countenance changed after she poured her heart out to God, even before He answered her prayer. Just meeting with the Lord of Hosts was enough to begin the healing of her heart.
When we are powerless and when there is no other help, Jehovah Sabaoth is the Strong Tower into which we can run. The God of all hosts is able to meet us where we are. In short, Jehovah Sabaoth speaks of God's available power in our time of trouble.
So, what do we need to do? We must recognize our desperate need for Him, then turn to Him and allow his grace to save us. We must know Jehovah Sabaoth.
A W Tozer said it like this: “Acquaint thyself with God. To regain her lost power the Church must see heaven opened and have a transforming vision of God.
But the God we must see is not the utilitarian God who is having such a run of popularity today, whose chief claim to men's attention is His ability to bring them success in their various undertakings and who for that reason is being cajoled and flattered by everyone who wants a favor.
The God we must learn to know is the Majesty in the heavens, God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, the only wise God our Saviour… Knowledge of such a Being cannot be gained by study alone. It comes by a wisdom the natural man knows nothing of, neither can know, because it is spiritually discerned. To know God is at once the easiest and the most difficult thing in the world. It is easy because the knowledge is not won by hard mental toil, but is something freely given. As sunlight falls free on the open field, so the knowledge of the holy God is a free gift to men who are open to receive it. But this knowledge is difficult because there are conditions to be met and the obstinate nature of fallen man does not take kindly to them.”
How well do we know God? Every time I dig a bit into His Holy Word, I realize how much more of Him I need.
Come to God with your need. Begin to see Him as the Lord of Hosts and the Lord who is more than able to meet that need. And be encouraged that He is with you in your battles.
The great reformer Martin Luther understood the truth found in the Name the Lord of Sabaoth and expressed them memorably in his great hymn (written circa 1525). This version is from the mid-'80s and sung by Steve Green, but it is powerful. Listen to the words. Imagine the thoughts of the author and look to the majesty of Jehovah Sabaoth.
A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing;
Our Helper He amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing
For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe;
His craft & power are great, & armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.
Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing;
Were not the right Man on our side, the Man of God’s own choosing:
Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord Sabaoth, His Name, from age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.
REMEMBER: An organized list of all of the devotions and creative prompts for the Create Truth Art Challenge can be found in the Grace in Color Classroom. Feel free to sign up for the FREE challenge at any time. Create Truth Art is designed so that you can jump in at any time. Each devotion and art prompt can stand alone. Of course, the goal is to be in God’s Word more and more, so I’d love it you followed along with us each week! There is, however, no pressure and no stress involved in this fun way to grow closer to God.